Over the last year, I have been way more introspective than I have ever been in my life – thinking about, questioning, and sometimes even regretting every decision I have ever made, and every accomplishment.
I have mentally been in a funk, sometimes finding it hard to be as creative as I normally am, hitting mental roadblocks and criticizing the work I have done way more than I normally do. I knew it was unhealthy, and I knew I was being too rough on myself, but I could never really pinpoint where it was all coming from. Why I felt like I was achieving nothing of importance, even though I knew myself how hard I have worked.
But eventually, things became clearer, I thought about it a little more and spoke with people around me. I eventually came to the conclusion that the label of “non-essential” I was given truly did affect me more than I ever realized. It seeped into my inner dialogue more than I even knew myself, and made me feel like what I was doing wasn’t of value.
From the start, and even now, I understand why this happened, why the labels came about, and why they themselves were “essential.” However, and as with most things, I don’t think we really truly realized the mental toll that alone would put on people in both categories. The stress of having to work in a pandemic, and also those – like myself – who were placed in the non-essential category suddenly being told why they did was an afterthought.
I have been in radio, published a book, sold photos to stock image companies, and have started a number of podcasts. However, because of the “non-essential” tag, I suddenly felt a sense of worthlessness. A wave of “well why am I even doing this” flooded over me, and I was unable – until recently – to swim my way back to get air.
And I am not alone.
College taught me what I know about the technical side of my career. How to write, broadcast, take photos, illustrate, and become a more creative person. But it took a pandemic to teach me that the world thinks a little bit differently about the things I produce, and the work I create.
But I know my worth, and if you’re a creative, or a “non-essential,” you should too, You need to know that you have value, from the very top, to the very bottom.
While I truly understand that some careers are more key to the continuation of our community, I will never again think of myself, or anyone else for that matter, as “non-essential.”
We all need each other, no matter how big or small. And while I will never find a cure for a disease, keep a supply chain alive, or even solve a crime – I feel, and know, I can bring things to the table that are just important to the world – even if no one cares but me.
I will forever be the person to keep creating, working, and producing things I hope others will enjoy. I will continue to believe that what I do is important, no matter how many times someone tells me it isn’t.
And to me, that’s essential.